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6558Re: [MedievalSawdust] Re: Grain in joints and finishing questions

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  • AlbionWood
    Jul 1, 2006
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      Most of the 16th c. six-board chests appear to have been treenailed; some appear to have used iron nails.  Treenails have the advantage here as they are flexible, so can accommodate some cross-grain movement without splitting the boards.  Using kiln-dried quartersawn material also helps.  Thick stuff won't move as much as thinner.

      I use Tremont nails in slightly oversize holes.  My main problem is cupping as the boards shrink in dry climates; this is exacerbated by my use of 1/2" boards for the sides (to save weight).

      I made a couple of clamped-front chests with full 1" thick lids (milled from 5/4 lumber) treenailed to battens about 2" wide, as seen on surviving 13th to 15th c. chests.  I was worried about differential movement, but the customer reported the lid stayed flat.

      Speaking of clamped-front chests, this is another example of a medieval technique that modern authors would say cannot work.  The joints between the legs and the panels are cross-grain, and frequently involve wide boards.  Sometimes you can see where this has indeed caused the panels to crack, but quite a lot of them look just fine.  It's possible that the peg holes in the tenons were elongated (this is what I usually do), but it's also possible that the combination of flexible pegs and thick lumber accommodates all the cross-grain movement.


      msgilliandurham wrote:

      By "mechanically" do you mean with nails, dowels, or screws? or by
      cutting a strip out of the ends (esentially making one great big
      finger joint) I'm guessing both would be best.

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